Child welfare worker charged in baby’s death

/ Source: The Associated Press

An employee of the state Department of Children and Families has been charged in the death of a 7-month-old foster child in her care, prompting the agency to seek her dismissal.

State police charged Suzanne Listro, 40, of Mansfield, with manslaughter Wednesday in the May 19 death of Michael Brown Jr., who suffered a blunt trauma head injury at her home. At a court appearance Thursday, a judge set bond at $1 million.

It was unclear if Listro has a lawyer.

Listro, a children's services consultant for the department, received a foster care provider's license earlier this year, despite having been investigated twice within the past two years on allegations she abused another child she adopted, said the agency's commissioner, Susan Hamilton. The allegations were not substantiated.

Listro has been placed on unpaid leave, and Hamilton is seeking to have her fired.

The agency will start requiring an outside firm to review agency employees who want to be foster parents.

Hamilton said she also plans to dismiss a department investigator who handled the two previous abuse probes in 2006 and 2007 involving Listro and her adopted child. She called those investigations "substandard and unacceptable."

A manager who approved both investigations will be suspended for 20 days, Hamilton said.

Because the alleged abuse was unsubstantiated, Listro's name was not listed in the automated child abuse and neglect registry when she was being investigated for a foster care license, Hamilton said.

"Although it's impossible to determine whether this information would have changed the licensing decision, it's clear that it should have been easily accessible to the licensing staff," Hamilton said.